Day 109: mile 1572.3 to mile 1599.7 to Etna

8.2.18. 27.4 miles.

I woke up this morning and I couldn’t believe it: no smoke! I got to see a real sunrise with glowing clouds. It was pretty magical considering I’d been seeing the sun as a giant red orb recently. I was also slightly chilled this morning too, but not enough to put any other layers on. Just get to walking!

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The morning was really pleasant. It wasn’t hot, but wasn’t cold, and the breeze kept any kinds of bugs away. I got to see real mountains in the distance again, and it almost felt like being back in the Sierra. I took a few photo breaks early on, but ultimately kept hiking at a quick pace. I kind of thought about going to town today, but didn’t know if I’d actually be able to, especially since there was a lot of elevation gain and I had a lot of miles to put in, and would need to get a ride well before dark.

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So, I hustled. I took a mini water filtering break around 7 miles at a large stream, which was really nice since most water had been trickles from tiny springs recently. Then I started most of the climbing. There were some steep ascents up hills that didn’t look too big, but I just powered up them, snacking in between climbs to keep my energy up. In the middle of the second climb I needed to get more water, and followed a path to a spring. There were SO many cows, all with cow bells around their necks. They just stared at me as I passed. And some started trotting. TBH, it’s the most fear I’ve felt around animals out here. I just didn’t want them to trample me as I was getting water.

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I finished the climb and entered the Russian Wilderness, then started a descent down the side of the mountain. This really felt like the Sierra with so much granite and rocky trail. And the views of the mountains were so beautiful! My nice clear skies were starting to fade though, as fires from the north were causing haze on the horizon. Possibly fires in southern Oregon or really NW cali? As with all descents, there was an incredibly steep ascent to go, and then I was going to take a short break for lunch. By this time, I was dead set on getting to the road by 6 so I could attempt to get a ride into town. I pushed though the climb, which was really pretty, but also in a vey burnt area, meaning lots of sun exposure, before finally making it to the top to a trickling water source with nice shady campsites. I took an hour break for lunch, with about 8.5 miles to go, half of which were uphill.

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I got through the first bit of uphill pretty easily, and then took another small water filtering break at a stream with 5 miles to go. I didn’t know if I’d get a ride, so I needed to grab some extra water in case I had to spend the night near the road.

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The uphill was about 2.5 miles long and wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be until the top, which was steeper. There was an incredibly beautiful lake view from the top though, so it felt like it was worth it. I was super happy to finish the climb. It was literally all downhill from here!

I really sped down the mountain to the road, even running at times just because I was going so fast, and it actually felt fun to jog! And if you know me... I NEVER say anything about running is fun.

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I knew Raven was ahead of me, and he also was trying to get to town, so I was hopeful that he wouldn’t be at the road, which would indicate that there was a chance for me to get a ride too! I got down to the road at 6:15 and waited the longest 15 minutes of my life until I heard a car in the distance and immediately stuck out my thumb, threw a huge smile on my face, and waved like an idiot, hoping they would stop. And they did! The road doesn’t see too much traffic, but everyone says the locals are so nice and you will almost 100% get a ride if a car comes by. They had kids in the backseat, so I happily rode in the bed of the truck into town. It took about 20 min and I was so happy!

First things first: I needed to find a place to stay. I called the motel but they didn’t have any rooms. Then I called another hotel that my friend Drippy stayed at while he was in Etna and they had space! Actually, it’s like a bed & breakfast and I was the only guest for Thursday night! It’s like I had a whole house to myself! I took a shower & got settled, then went to the restaurant Paystreak for dinner. The giants game was on, so that was a nice treat to watch the ball game and eat. I was starving! After dinner I called my mom and went to bed, while watching the bachelorette. Such a long day, and I was exhausted! Thankfully I’m taking a zero tomorrow since no chores got done tonight.